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Our 14-month old son has been diagnosed with a fairly strong
allergy to milk and a mild allergy to wheat. He's still nursing,
but we're thinking ahead to the day when he won't be any more,
perhaps in three to five months. We're struggling with ways to
feed him healthy, nutritious foods that don't exacerbate his
allergic reactions. We're also hoping that he will lose his
allergies as he grows up, but we're having difficulty finding
good information on this issue. If anyone has experience with
these childhood allergies, we'd appreciate learning more about
how you dealt with it. Thanks and best regards.
While my own children do not have allergies, I have a multiply-
allergic niece (2 yrs old), so I know it can be difficult.
I've reviewed the archives, and noticed that nobody mentioned
that you can be certain something is dairy-free if it is
labeled KOSHER/PAREVE - typically indicated by the letter ''P''
after the O-U symbol (that's the letter U inside O) You'll
still have to read lablels re: wheat. If the allergy is
severe, you will have to be vigilant around other children as
they carry around bottles and/or sippy cups of milk or
formula. My sister-in-law found that even when the other
child's parent is aware of the allergy, and says ''I'll watch
them'', they often don't even notice that a cup of milk has been
left within reach. She also carries Benedryl and an Epi-pen
EVERYWHERE (there's one in the diaper bag, one in the car, one
at home). Good Luck!
There are a gazillion (so it seems) websites that cater to those
needing a wheat free/dairy free diet. This is actually a very
common diet for autistic children, so a scan of websites
catering to that population may be useful. Or you can just plug
in ''wheat free, dairy free'' into google and see what comes up --
livingwithout.com, gfcfdiet.com (gluten free casein free), among
others. At this age, it is possible that your son will outgrow
his sensitivities, especially if he is strict with avoidance
over the next year or so. There are many whole foods
nutritionists in the area who work with this issue often. Feel
free to contact me or my office for a recommendation.
Our son also had wheat allergies when he was little, as do I -
his mom. Food allergies vary in degree of severity, and his
manifested itself in the form of eczema mainly. In the adult
version I get circles under my eyes and hives and weight gain.
The good news is that there are lots of wheat free foods on the
market. Some good places to buy them are Village market
(Piedmont), and Whole Foods. Even Trader Joe's has Joes' O's
cereal, which are like Cheerios without the wheat and other
wheat free snacks like Pirate's Booty and Veggie Booty. You can
feed your child rice crackers, non wheat bread (look in freezer
section) and waffles, and even wheat free cookies etc. And rice
is a great substitute in general for wheat... rice cakes,
steamed rice, rice pasta etc. At the Berkeley Bowl I have also
bought a baking mix from Arrowhead Mills that uses rice and
potato flour instead of wheat and can be used interchangeably
with regular wheat flour in all recipes I have tried. There are
lots of people in the same boat, so you are in good company.
The bad news is that a lot of foods contain wheat that you would
never suspect, so you MUST read labels. Some sneaky wheat foods
include things like chicken broth and soy sauce (you can get
wheat free version). Luckily, our son outgrew his allergy by
about 18 months, or at least the eczema part. He still eats a
lot of rice and loves many of those wheat free products. He is
however, sort of a picky eater, which I am not sure is related
to the allergy, but for example he will not eat sandwiches and
noodles (I was late in finding and giving him these wheat free
versions) so do try to find as many wheat free versions of
common foods like that as possible and present them early. Good
A note regarding the post concerning dairy and Pareve-labed
products. The Food Allergy Network no longer recommends relying
on Pareve-labed products for milk-free diets
It is true that if something is
certified kosher parve (or pareve) that it is dairy free.
However, the U with the circle around it with a P next to it
means that it is kosher for Passover, NOT DAIRY FREE!! Usually
if it is dairy, it will have a D next to the OU (U with a
circle, stands for Union of Orthodox Rabbis). If it contains no
dairy but was made with equipment that is also used for dairy
foods then it will say DE next to the OU. For a full list of
kosher symbols, go to http://www.kashrus.org/kosher/symbol.html
My son and I also have dairy allergies. I would first, strongly
encourage you not to wean so soon. The breastmilk is an
excellent source of nutrition for your child, especially in
times of illness, when they aren't eating well. La Leche League
has some books and groups about nursing toddlers. We use the
Rice Dream brand calcium fortified rice milk. It is good for
both drinking and cooking, except for packaged pudding mix, when
it doesn't get firm. It is available at Andronico's and
Berkeley Natural Grocery. It tastes pretty good, unlike some
other choices. Good luck.
Dairy Avoiding Mom
When my daughter was born almost two years ago, it
quickly became apparent that she had a dairy allergy.
She breastfed, and if I had even a spot of milk in my tea,
she would break out into a rash. We had thought she
had outgrown the allergy, but we realize now that she
as sensitive to dairy as ever -- the symptoms have just
changed (eczema, congestion and sleeplessness).
I have never had a problem with dairy myself so I don't
know much about how to cook and eat without it. After I
bought some soy cheese that caused her to become
symptomatic (I belatedly realized that it contained
casein, the allergenic milk protein), I recognize that I'm
going to need some guidance in navigating this new
What resources (books, cookbooks, people) do people
know of that can help me educate myself about dairy
allergy? I'm especially at a loss when it comes to
baking, something I really enjoy doing. Is there a
margarine-like thing that isn't full of hydrogenated oils?
A good tofu baking book (I once had a vegan custard
made of tofu that was delicious)? Also, she seems to
do fine with goats' milk. Are there un-goaty tasting
cheeses that would be toddler-friendly? Any advice on
this issue will be greatly appreciated!
I have had good luck with ''366 Simply Delicious Dairy-Free
Recipies'' by Robin Robertson. You can find good vegan foods
at Whole Foods and Berkeley or El Cerrito Natural Food
Stores--including fruit pies, chocolate pudding, delicious
cookies and healthy margarine. Also, imported feta cheese
is generally not made from cows milk, so that is another
option to add to goat cheese. And, finally, cooking recipes
from non-western countries will generally offer you a good
selection of dairy free meals.
My son was allergic to dairy up until the age of 3. He is
no longer allergic at the age of 6. The milk allergy is
commonly outgrown. The key is to keep your child off of all
dairy. A good starting point is the Food Allergy Network.
They are on the web at foodallergy.org Here are some
cookbooks: ''My kids allergic to Everything'' Dessert
Cookbook' by Mary Harris and Wilma Nachsin. Books by
Carol Fenster, she has at least two books. Fruit juices can
be used as subst.for milk in some recipes as well as fruit
purees. Do not
worry the dairy allergy will be very managable. I know, my
son is still allergic to wheat, rye and barley but he has
outgrown both dairy and egg. The main effort on your part
will be to make sure your child gets enough calcium and
fat in her diet. Take care and please contact me.
Some people allergic to cows milk can handle sheep as well
as goat milk and cheese. What I've found with goat cheese
is that it stays fresh for maybe 2 days and then gets a
goaty taste so you have to eat it quickly.
There are some wonderful sheep cheeses that may work. One
is called Pecorino (sp?) and there are a few different
kinds of it. They are hard cheeses.There is a pretty good
selection of sheep fetas and Pecorinos at Berkeley Bowl.
My 7 year old does fine with the sheep cheeses though not
with cow cheeses.
I'm dairy free on and off, also w/ a sensitivity to casein.
Rice and soy milks are nice alternatives. They make a good
hot cocoa or chocolate milk esp. w/ ghiradelli ground
chocolate (available at trader joes). In many quick breads
canola oil is a good substitute for butter/margarine. In
cookies applesauce or other fruit puree can substitute for
fat. mashed tofu can give a cheesy consistency to pasta
casseroles and lasagna. Oprah's spa cook book has a tofu
cheese cake recipe in it and there's a cook book called ''I
can't believe this has no sugar cook book' and it is also
dairy free. The apple crumble and carrot cake are both very
good recipes. I've made nice rice pudding w/ raisins and
soy milk. in last wednesday's sf chron food section there
was a recipe for vegan/raw mock parmesan cheese. I've
always used a little of that when I wanted it.
I don't have any specific advice about dairy allergies, but
I recently asked my allergist for advice (I'm concerned
about my 9 mo. old having allergies) and his office
referred me to these two resources: FEAST and FAN. I
haven't checked them out yet, but maybe they will be of use
to you. FAN stands for The Food Allergy Network. Their
phone number is 703-691-3179,
web site is www.foodallergy.org. FEAST stands for Food
Education Allergy Support Team. Their web site is
www.mindspring.com/~valleyfeast. (I believe FEAST is a
local organization and FAN is national.) Good luck!
My 3 yr old daughter is highly allergic to dairy also. We
use Nucoa margarine (no whey) in place of butter and rice
milk in place of milk. She is also allergic to Soy products
and eggs, which makes cooking extra challenging. I have not
looked into goat cheeses, but all others I've looked at
either contain whey or casein (both cows milk proteins).
For baking, I use rice milk and usually have to adjust the
amount slightly for each recipe.
I apologize for any of this that might be redundant. My
son was diagnosed with a dairy allergy quite recently, and
I anted to add some of the observations I've made to this
First of all, allergies, unlike intoleramces, mean that
even a trace amount of the offending food can cause
allergic reaction. Dairy allergy contributes not only to
symptoms like skin rash, runny nose, and exacerbated asthma
symptoms, but also to microscopic-level intestinal
bleeding, associated with severe anemia and nutritional
Reading labels has brought me to the conclusion that I need
to be on the alert for whey, casein, and milk, cheese, etc,
even in the most unexpected foods. Post makes several dry
breakfast cereals that include whey in the ingredient
list. There are a couple of ways to bypass the possibility
of forgetting to read labels or that a baby-sitter or
relative will unwittingly feed the child something with
dairy. The most time-consuming way is to prepare your own
foods whenever possible. Oatmeal, for example, can replace
breakfast cereal and is pretty coinvenient. It takes only
a few minutes to cook, and if you buy the 100% oats,
available in old-fashioned, quick, and instant varieties,
you can be confident in serving a very nutritious breakfast
made from a healthy whole grain, and YOU are the one who
has control of whether to add sugar/honey and how much,
which is another advantage over commercial sweetened
cereals. Cream of wheat and cream of rice offer the same
The less time-consuming but more expensive option is to buy
products labeled as VEGAN (not vegetarian). This way you
are guaranteed that absolutely NO dairy or dairy derivative
will be present in the food. This saves you the hassle of
reading ingredient lists and the risk that the family
refrigerator will harbor potentially harmful foods. It is
easy for the whole family to remember that the child cannot
have cow's milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc; it is not
reasonable to expect everyone, including older siblings, to
remember that most commercial spaghetti sauces, to name
just one example, are equally unsafe for the child with the
allergy. Buying vegan products takes care of this problem,
as well as the problem of cheese and yogurt substitutes
which actually contain whey and/or casein. It's really
important to remember that lactose-free does not by any
means mean dairy-free; sometimes even dairy-free products
contain the proteins our children are allergic to. The way
to go, then, is vegan. Wild Oats Market (now Picadilly
Market) and Whole Foods are two stores where I've found a
wide selection of such foods, as well as employees who are
helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to shopping for the
child who is allergic to dairy.
A related observation is that prices of these foods vary
widely from sotre to store. Andronico's sells Edensoy
Extra (soymilk fortified with calcium, etc) for 2.59 a box,
whereas Picadilly sells the same product for $1.99 a box.
So pay attention to prices, save and compare receipts, and
try not to go bankrupt in the process of feeding your
child. I've decided to stick with Edensoy, since it's
nutritious and doesn't have the bitter flavor that some
soymilks do. It's also organic and free of genetically
modified ingredients. The added advantage of this product
(and many other soymilks) is that it's shelf-stable, so
that when it goes on sale somewhere, I can stock up on
boxes. I don't recommend switching brands of soymilk too
often once you've found something your child likes. Unlike
cow's milk, one brand does not taste just like any other.
In order to prevent your child from developing an aversion
to soymilk altogether, try to stick with the first brand
that she or he seems to like.
I hope these observations will be useful.
this page was last updated: May 26, 2008
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